How to Keep Your Energy Up When You’re Totally Stressed Out
9 minutes ago
Filed to: Stress
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Illustration by Angelica Alzona.
I don’t know about you, but my world has been a little more stressful since… say, last November. Even without the continuous news updates—and the time I spend reading them, along with the various Twitter threads that try to game theorize them—I’ve got a lot to manage and balance in my life: I work part-time as an editor, my debut novel comes out this May, I’m completing assignments for a number of freelance writing clients, I teach writing classes, and I’m a volunteer tutor. (And that’s just the work stuff.)
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A friend recently asked me how I keep my energy up with all of this potential stress; after all, I’m still hitting my work deadlines, I’m still meeting my personal goals, and I’m still getting my sleep (though I’m not always sleeping well).
Part of it has to do with optimization and automation—writing effective to-do lists, turning habits into routines, offloading tasks to apps and tracking them on spreadsheets.
But I think the real reason I stay energized—which isn’t to say I’m always happy, or stress-free, just still moving forward—has to do with a lifetime habit of priority and practice.
Practice Doesn’t Make Life Perfect, But It Gets Things Done
My parents are both classically-trained musicians, which meant I grew up as a classically-trained musician (piano, French horn, voice). More importantly, I learned how to practice.
When you practice something, you not only repeat the same scales or arpeggios every day, you also repeat the act of practicing every day. The idea that you’ll sit down with your instrument for 30 minutes, or an hour, or more—and that’ll just be something that happens every day. Usually at the same time, because it’s easier to think “I practice at 7:30 p.m.” than it is to ask yourself, every day, when you’re going to get this done.